FurnitureConsignment.com Blog

Thanksgiving Menu 2018: Turkey, Stuffing, Cranberry Sauce and Some Sturdy Furniture

Posted by Jay Frucci on Sat, November 10, 2018 @ 02: 32 PM

 

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Buckle up, folks. It’s T-12, and everyone’s already on edge.

By that, I mean we’ve got just twelve more days till Thanksgiving, that gluttonous national holiday when families gather around the dining table to gnaw on some turkey while waging verbal combat over politics, religion, sports and any number of other formerly innocuous topics. Even the weather is off-limits with the looming threat of global warming.

So what topic is safe? Admittedly, there are very few.

Consider what happened to my family a few years ago. We’d driven sixteen hours to Kentucky to spend the holiday with Diana’s family. I stayed awake by listening to radio talk shows. One, in particular, inspired me. Thanksgiving, the host proclaimed, was the perfect time to discuss end-of-life issues with older relatives.

So I decided to broach that topic with my in-laws over pumpkin pie. "Have you made your final plans?” I asked cheerfully.

"Glad you asked!" Papa, an Army veteran, said forcefully. "I've given this some thought. And I'd like my ashes to be spread over Nancy."

His wife – Diana’s step-mother – is named Becky.

Pandemonium erupted.

Startled, Papa hastily explained that Nancy, Kentucky is the home to one of the nation’s oldest national cemeteries. Some 4,000 veterans are buried there, and he wants to be one of them.

My advice: be prepared this Thanksgiving. After all, we’re a divided nation.

Short of issuing a gag order to your most outspoken family members, I think the best defense is to make sure your furniture is sturdy enough to survive the fray. Depending on the heat of the topic, your gathering may include some banging on the table or upending of chairs. A really rampaging relative may start jumping on the sofa. If you're making purchases this weekend, think for a moment that discount furniture might not make it to desert.

For the best selection of high-quality, well-made pre-owned furniture in New England, stop by one of our three stores this weekend. In honor of Papa and all veterans, FCG is offering all shoppers 15% off any item in our showrooms now through Monday.

*Image from "Cheers" television show.

Downsizers Alert: There’s a Limited Market for Furniture Bought during the Reagan Years

Posted by Jay Frucci on Sun, November 04, 2018 @ 12: 16 PM

 

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She whipped into our showroom like the first bitter winds of winter. With her black designer trench coat billowing behind her, she darted from one piece of furniture to another, frowning and shaking her head in disbelief. 

Normally, I like to welcome our customers to our stores, but something told me to seek shelter from this storm. She was a nor’easter about to unleash her fury on FCG. “There is nothing here as nice as my furniture,” she spat at me when I finally worked up the courage to approach her. “How dare you reject my furniture for consignment!” 

To prove her point, she shoved her phone at me and started scrolling through photos of her home’s interior. Oh, yes, suddenly I remembered her. She had contacted FCG a few weeks ago as she was beginning the task of downsizing her large, lavishly furnished home. She’d wanted to consign every piece of furniture, all of which she’d bought in the mid-1980s. 

“What is wrong with you?” she demanded. “These are classics.” She pointed to a photo of her dark cherry Queen Anne-style dining room set. It was a classic, I silently agreed – back when Ronald Reagan was President. “Now, that’s quality!” she barked. She flipped to another photo of her bedroom set, a thirty-five-year-old clunker with a triple dresser, a tri-fold mirror, and chunky handles. 

“M’am,” I interrupted cautiously, but she was not going to be stopped. Next in her photo stream was a massive armoire, so large it could have been used as a bank vault. We haven’t had one on the showroom floor in years, in part because they require their own zip code in a house. 

“M’am,” I tried again as gently as possible. “Our customers prefer –” She narrowed her eyes and glared indignantly at me. “Prefer what!?!” she retorted, waving her hand dismissively at the showroom. “This stuff?” 

“Madam,” I said firmly, “with all due respect, your furniture is out-of-date. No longer in style. Passé. Old.”

She looked at me, clearly astonished. “Old?” Our entire store quaked as she teetered on the edge of confusion and fury. Then, as quickly as she’d roared into the store, she melted. “Out-of-date?” she said, finally facing the painful truth.

She retreated from the showroom in a daze. Downsizing is a process full of difficult truths. One of the hardest: your furniture, circa 1980, just isn’t appealing to the millennials who are flocking to FCG, eager to furnish their first homes. 

She headed for the parking lot with somewhat less energy, muttering to herself: “What is wrong with these millennials?”

Right or Left? Soccer or CCD? Batman or Superman? Life’s Important Questions

Posted by Jay Frucci on Sat, October 27, 2018 @ 11: 35 AM

 

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As I sped out of the parking lot of our store in Hanover, I realized I had a major parental decision to make. Sitting next to me was Robbie, our ten-year-old. On his way out of the store, he’d grabbed two lollipops from the jar on the counter. Now, he was contentedly sucking on both at the same time. Two white lollipop sticks were protruding from his mouth like fangs.  

 Just before turning onto busy Washington Street, I stopped. Should I take a right or a left?

 A right would take him to CCD, his religious education class at our local parish. He’d be five minutes late, but he’d probably get a good dollop of the Ten Commandments. A left turn would take him to soccer practice where he’d be fifteen minutes early.

 Either way, I needed to make a speedy decision. His brother’s soccer game at the high school had already started, and I wanted to catch the second half. I glanced over at Robbie who seemed oblivious to my dilemma.

That rambunctious redhead had already put in six hours of hard labor in the classroom. Then, he’d spent an hour hanging around our store while his parents attended to the family business. Now, I could tell, that kid needed to run. Don’t judge me harshly, God, but we’re going to take a pass on spiritual enlightenment in favor of kicking a ball around a field.  

 Decision made: soccer practice.

 As I peeled off to the left, Robbie beamed, gleefully aware he’d dodged a dreary hour of moral instruction in the church basement. I recall that feeling. I suddenly remembered riding my bike to the five-and-dime with my pal, Patrick, where we’d pick up a pack of gum and some trading cards. On the way back, we’d argue over who would win the battle of titans, Superman or Batman.

 “Robbie,” I said impulsively. “Superman or Batman?”

Robbie rolled his eyes dismissively. “Dad,” he said. “Superman’s dead. Batman killed him.” I was shocked and, in a way, devastated. I had no idea the great debate had been resolved. I’d always rooted for Superman. Robbie hammered another nail in the superhero coffin. “Batman used Kryptonite,” he added.

Then, Robbie lobbed a question back at me. “Dad,” he said, “Iron Man or Captain America?”

I was stumped. With all the responsibilities of running a business and raising a family, I’d lost touch with the world of superheros. “Robbie,” I admitted, “I haven’t a clue.”

If I had super powers, I’d give almost anything for one more day as a ten-year-old. Robbie, I thought, as he leaped out of the car, enjoy every minute.

In the Furniture Business, We Have Nothing to Fear from Trump’s Tariffs

Posted by Jay Frucci on Sat, October 20, 2018 @ 09: 29 AM

 

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Fear is contagious – even more, perhaps, than any germ. 

Consider the swine flu panic of 2009. For six months, the U.S. was gripped with fear of a possible epidemic. Though actual cases were rare, Americans anticipated the worst. At church, our priest advised us not to shake hands with our neighbors during Mass, as per tradition, but just to wave to each other. It was awkward, to say the least, and unnecessary. 

That’s been on my mind a lot this week because fear is rampant in the furniture business. At High Point, North Carolina, at the recent furniture industry convention, attendees were grim. The focus of their anxiety? The Section 301 tariff.

The Trump administration plans to impose tariffs of up to 25% on a broad range of products made in China, including furniture. Trump intends to punish China for what the administration sees as unfair trade practices and theft of intellectual property. 

What does this mean for you, the consumer? 

First, a note of caution. Beware of fear-mongering. Some big furniture retailers are trying to scare consumers into buying quickly with the threat that prices are going up and supplies will be limited. Amid the confusion, those retailers are hoping to make a quick buck. 

Stay calm, folks. For years, most large furniture manufacturers have been moving operations out of China into other less expensive places such as Vietnam. Those who still manufacture in China are racing to ship their finished goods out before the tariffs take effect on January 1st. 

In my opinion, new-furniture prices are likely to stay flat. There may be some short delays in product deliveries until the furor abates, but that will likely be a matter of only a few weeks. 

Who could benefit from the tariffs?

It’s possible they could be a boon for smaller furniture-makers who manufacture in the U.S. Many of these companies hope their bottom lines will benefit from price increases and product shortages on goods from China. Section 302 could help those who pride themselves on products made in America. 

One important thing to keep in mind: there are no tariffs on quality pre-owned furniture. So stop by and check out the vast selection at FCG.

Paralyzed by Decorating Indecision? Here are Some Tips to Help

Posted by Jay Frucci on Sat, October 13, 2018 @ 08: 18 AM

 

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“I’m afraid to make a mistake.” 

Judging from her expression, that was an understatement. She wasn’t merely afraid of a decorating faux pas, she was petrified and, as a result, paralyzed. Standing in our showroom, she looked like she was about to cry. 

Her anxiety was understandable. Now that the kids were grown, she and her husband were moving from the big empty colonial to a townhouse in a golf community. “He’s worked hard all his life and this is what he wants,” she said. “I want him to be happy.” 

Her expression betrayed her true feelings, though. She, too, was ready for a change, but was this was the right change? Her mind was churning with worry. Would they miss the old neighborhood? Would they make new friends?

All those unspoken anxieties were fueling her decorating paralysis. Should she repaint the blue wall in the new kitchen? The floors in the new house were a yellowish oak; her dining room table is a rich espresso color. Would that combo look weird? 

Even more importantly, how could she artfully integrate certain pieces of furniture from her colonial into a townhouse designed for casual living? 

At FCG, she got not only a sympathetic ear, but some valuable tips to help her make the transition with less stress. Since many of you might be thinking of a similar move in the future, I thought we’d share our collective wisdom.

1. First, relax. Decorating to please your new neighbors would be a mistake. Your home should be a reflection of you, a refuge that comforts you like a cozy blanket.

2. Don’t buy upholstery online. Tempting though that may be, you will want a sofa that’s comfortable. How will you know? Sit on it. Sprawl like you will during the Super Bowl. You can’t make decisions on comfort from an online photo.

3. Buy quality. Trendy looks are fun but there’s nothing quite like a well-made piece of furniture. Yes, quality is more expensive, but you’ll never regret it. You will, however, be full of regret when the cheap foam-filled sofa sags or that chair breaks under the weight of a guest at Thanksgiving.

4. Embrace color. Consider a dash of orange or cobalt blue. Have fun. What happens when you’re frozen with fear? You play it safe: white walls, gray sofa. That’s blah.

5. Don’t replace, restore. Take some of the most meaningful pieces of furniture with you to your new home. Then, give those pieces a fresh look by painting, refinishing or reupholstering.

6. Feature your family. Nothing is more intriguing than family photos. Frame them tastefully, place them strategically. You can’t go wrong when you center your decorating around those who mean the most to you.

A Casting Call in Boston Pits One Twin Against the Other

Posted by Jay Frucci on Sat, October 06, 2018 @ 01: 24 PM

 

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“Why me?”

Brad, manager of our store in Plymouth, was asking that question with utter delight. He’d been chosen as an extra in a movie being filmed this fall in Boston starring a most famous actress, whom he adores. He and his identical twin brother had tried out for parts, but only he had been chosen.

So when he had the chance to ask the director why he made the cut – and not his brother – he pounced gleefully. Surely, the director would allude to his dashing good looks. Maybe he had an unrealized but extraordinary gift for acting. The director might even say that he was so photogenic that it’s a miracle he hadn’t been discovered sooner.

Brad was eager to know so he could lord it over his disappointed brother, Ron.

At FCG, we’ve enjoyed the antics of these rivalrous twins for more than a decade. Brad has been store manager in Plymouth since 2013. Ron is one of the top salespeople at our store in Natick. Both are outrageously talented in interior design and our customers love them. But pit them against each other in a contest, and the daggers come out. Elegant daggers, of course.

Consider FCG’s Christmas tree contest of 2016. Competitive tree decorating is a tradition that pits our three stores against each other to win the prize for designing the most fabulous tree. Brad and Ron led top-secret missions to secure the title for their stores, with results that were over-the-top. Snowflakes as big as parasols? Yup, that was Brad. The guy who was peaking in the window, spying, while Brad worked away? Yup, Ron.

So of course sparks would fly when they decided to vie for roles in the movie. They’d seen an ad in the local paper and decided to give it a shot. On the set, the talent scout sized up the two, then pointed to Brad, adding "I think we can use him.”

Ron was devastated. The two didn’t speak to each other on the ride home. But Brad was already broadcasting the news far and wide. He called me to let me know he would need a day off to get fitted for his costume. He’d also been told to grow a beard. “Right away!” he replied eagerly. “My whiskers will be ready!”

A few days later, Brad was sitting with the talent scout, the makeup artist and costume designer, and he couldn’t help but ask the question. “Why me and not my identical twin?” The talent scout grabbed her computer to check out a photo of the two. “Well, she said bluntly, “we need an older looking man.”

Brad’s heart sank. Older looking than his twin? Despite his careful skin-care regime? He left his fitting deflated. Minutes later, he got a call from his brother. “They want me!” Ron crowed. Apparently, the talent scout thought he’d be perfect for the role of a gentleman in a tuxedo sitting in the front row of a theater. Meanwhile, Brad found out he was cast as a bum sitting in the rafters.

“It’s all my fault.” Brad complained. “Why did I ask! Because of me, Ron has the better role – and he’ll be only a few feet away from my leading lady.”

Our days are never dull at Furniture Consignment Gallery. If you’re not entertained by our ever-changing inventory, then come just to visit our new resident movie stars. Ron and Brad are always worth the price of admission.

Creative Table Tops and Bar Carts on Oct. 4: An Event to Help the Homeless

Posted by Jay Frucci on Mon, October 01, 2018 @ 10: 18 AM

 

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What’s for dinner? 

That’s a question that resonates with all of us. When I think about my most memorable meals, I think of my late grandmother. Even now, memories of her eggplant parmesan make my mouth water. Her braciole di manza, tender beef rolls filled with a savory stuffing and braised in a homemade tomato sauce? That dish should have been declared a national treasure. 

Not everyone is as fortunate. Some don’t have any answer for the question “what’s for dinner?” Despite our roaring economy, there are many who go hungry in our towns and cities. They, too, have memories but those won’t fill an empty stomach tonight. 

On Thursday, Oct. 4th, Boston’s design community is coming together to create an event that will help to alleviate homelessness and hunger in Boston. Heading Home to Dinner is the second annual event by the local design community to raise funds for those in need. Sponsors include the Boston Design Center, New England Home magazine, and other local design firms.

Those attending will enjoy a great meal on dining tables featuring spectacular tablescapes while sipping drinks from themed bar carts. Boston’s top interior designers are hard at work now creating those extraordinarily themes. 

My wife, Diana, co-owner of FCG and an ASID designer, was asked to design a bar cart. Her cart will feature that most classic of American cocktails, the Old Fashioned, with its main ingredient, of course, Kentucky bourbon. Diana chose this theme to honor her memories of dinnertime growing up in Louisville. Those memories are filled with clinking glasses, warm laughter, good manners and social graces. 

Looking for a hint of her bar cart design? The style will be Art Deco. Diana has chosen a palette of deep greens, blues and golds – the colors of peacock feathers, which were popular in women’s fashions in the Roaring Twenties. Follow Diana as she offers a glimpse into her design on Instagram: Furnitureconsignmentgalleryma

Last year, Heading Home to Dinner raised over $100,000. We’re hoping for even more this year. Join us to support a good cause. For more information on Heading Home to Dinner or to buy tickets, visit the event website: https://headinghometodinner.org

Puppy Love: Scratching, Chewing with a Side of Pure Love

Posted by Jay Frucci on Mon, September 24, 2018 @ 10: 13 AM

 

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Jim, a sales associate at our store in Natick, was examining a piece of furniture when I noticed a deep scratch on top of his head. “What happened?” I asked, curious. “My five-month-old puppy took a swipe at me,” Jim said. “Her nails were pretty sharp.” 

Oh, the puppy stage. I know it well. Jim pulled out his phone to show me photos of his beautiful English Spaniel. He named her Ally, a play on the basketball term ‘alley oop’, in which a player catches a ball in mid-air and dunks it before his feet hit the ground. The name alone told me his puppy was an energetic ball of fur. 

“How’s she with the furniture?” I asked innocently. Jim’s pained expression said it all. Unsupervised, his pup would shred the low rungs on all his bar stools.

When my Boxer, Roxie, was a puppy, we made the very unfortunate decision to replace our old carpet. One day after the new carpet was installed, Roxie coughed up a bone in the center of the room. A mountain of scrubbing bubbles still hasn’t gotten that stain out. 

Puppies are mischievous. They can’t help it. They seem to possess a radar for the things that mean the most to you and they’ll find a way to improve them by gnawing or scratching. That’s probably so you’ll realize that the only perfect thing in your home is the pup. Ask any of my three boys what they love most in our home, they’ll say Roxie. My son, a college freshman, doesn’t seem homesick for us, his family. But he does tell us how much misses the dog.

Looking for some puppy love this holiday season? There are 95 days until Christmas. If you’re planning to get a puppy, start contacting breeders now. In about six weeks, you’ll get to pick your pooch. Be sure to use that time to come to terms with some of life’s truths. As often as you tell the kids about their new responsibilities for the dog, you’ll probably be the one to feed it, walk it, clean up after it, and take it to the vet.

At FCG, we often see the evidence of puppy wear-and-tear on furniture. Some of the damage, no doubt, was annoying at the time to the owner. But ask any of them if it was worth it. I’m quite sure they would all say yes.

Downsizing Is the Ultimate Test for Planners. You Won’t Fail with FCG

Posted by Jay Frucci on Mon, September 17, 2018 @ 10: 23 AM

 

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We’re a nation of planners, reluctant to leave anything to chance. We start saving for retirement the day we get our first paycheck. We start saving for college when the baby is born. No one seems to want to wait for the obstetrician to announce “it’s a boy!” anymore. Parents-to-be want to know the baby’s gender so they can pick out the paint for the nursery and fill the toy box. 

“Be prepared, not scared,” a wise person once told me. So I understand that planning makes sense. But some things defy planning, no matter how hard you try. Moving, for one. Moving requires a lot of skills, including forward thinking, logistics, attention to detail, and, most of all, cooperation. Not everyone can juggle all that gracefully. 

Even more than moving, downsizing poses a lot of challenges. After all, sorting through years or even decades of accumulated possessions be very emotional. Lifestyle gurus briskly tout the benefits of “decluttering.” That’s easy to advocate until you actually tackle the task of tossing out beloved holiday ornaments or the children’s grade-school art projects. Farewell, papier-mâché dinosaur! 

At FCG, we understand how moving – and especially downsizing – can tax even the most capable planner. Our phone rings daily with calls for help from homeowners in the midst of a furniture crisis. Here’s a sample: 

• “I thought I sold my sectional online, but the buyer never showed up.”
• “My daughter was going to take my bedroom set, but she changed her mind.”
• “The folks who are buying our house said they wanted our dining set, but now they don’t – and they want it gone by the closing. That’s tomorrow!” 
• “We thought our living room furniture was going to fit in our new home, but we just measured and it won’t.”
• “We just found out how much it’ll cost to store our furniture and it isn’t worth the price!”

For planners and non-planners alike, what’s most important is the ability to pivot in those tense moments. When everything falls apart and your blood pressure soars, think of FCG. We’re better than Xanax. We’re calm in a crisis but we’re fast at moving furniture. We’ll help you handle those last-minute unexpected snafus.

Communications 101 for College Freshman: Managing the Parental Money Machine

Posted by Jay Frucci on Sat, September 08, 2018 @ 10: 13 AM

 

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“Ma! I can’t talk right now. I’m broke! Send money! I’ll call you back soon!” 

That was me, circa 1991, yelling into the phone hanging on the wall of my fraternity house. Behind me, my fraternity brothers were howling like a pack of hyenas. That was the tradition back then. When mothers called to check on their boys at college, it was pandemonium in the frat house. 

I could hear my mom faintly, amid the ruckus, protesting. She rarely got me on the phone at college and she was reluctant to let me off the hook. But I had mastered the art of the frat-boy escape. The trick was to sound urgently studious. “No, Ma. Don’t try to call me, I’ll call you. Gotta go to class.”

I didn’t have a cell phone. No one did back in 1991. Like most of the students at the University of Kentucky, I had the Wildcat calling card. It cost fifty cents a minute to call home. Needless to say, my calls were brief and infrequent. Most of the time, I was just trying to siphon some money out of the parental wallet. 

Times have changed, of course. These days, we ship our kids off to college with an arsenal of technology. Thanks to all those advances in tech, communication is cheap and easy now. But some things never change. 

My son is in his fourth week as a college freshman. He has a functioning iPhone, he has a plan that allows unlimited texting, and, unless he has worn his fingers to a nub playing beer pong, he has the capability to tap out a message to the folks back home. After all, we’re the ones funding this venture. 

So far, we haven’t gotten anything more than one or two perfunctory calls from the kid. Zip, nada, nothing. Here’s the long version of my last conversation with him: “Dad, I don’t get cell service in my dorm. I’ll call you. Gotta go to class.”

I recognize that brush-off. After all, I perfected the technique almost thirty years ago. Just like me and my frat brothers, my son is relishing his newfound independence. At least I know I’ll be hearing from him somewhat regularly – when he runs short of money.